I called my friend Katie today in need of a pep talk. I spouted for about 10 minutes, without a brief pause for her to interject, about how the success of others in my field felt like part of an equation that equaled my failure. I whined about racing through Time’s Square, from audition to audition, as the names of my peers in lights, flashed at me in mockery.
Thank God she is a good enough friend to allow NO wiggle room for such a narcissistic and distorted perception of reality!
What I wanted, was for her to list all of my blessings and talents and point out how they are lacking in these peers, and to hear how my choices are far more meaningful in the bigger picture. What I got was honest tough love, and a good kick in the ass.
When she spoke about how the path of others has absolutely nothing to do with my own, I fished deeper, in desperate search of the heroin my ego demanded. “So, you mean that the things I have to offer this world as a mother, a friend and counselor for women suffering from pregnancy loss and stillbirth, and an honest voice for working and stay-at-home Moms, has a far greater impact than silly shows and tv credits?”
Nope! She pressed on…
“That thinking is a trap, my friend. Your choices, blessings, tragedies and candor give you no more notches on the tree of life than your peers’ awards and current acclaim give to them.”
Crap! Sorry, Ego. Dialed the wrong friend.
She went on to say, “Emily, what if five years down the line, Zachary comes home with anger and jealousy toward a child who was chosen to be the teacher’s helper? Wouldn’t you tell him that that child’s reward does not make Zachary any less special, but that it was just his or her turn, and that one day it will be his?” My verbal response was, “Yes, of course. You’re totally right.” But, as I observed the silent thought that defensively quipped “What’s wrong with that teacher?!”, I had the sinking realization that this was a mountainous problem, and one that I should never even utter in a whisper, let alone post on the internet! This FLAW, in ALL CAPS, needs to be nipped in the bud, and fast! It’s a cancer I don’t want passed to my offspring. I write it here, head bowed over my keys in shame, as a written contract to my children, promising its continued awareness and due diligence.
The truth is, I have always believed that each human being is capable of “greatness”, the word’s definition lying only in the eyes of that human. But, my faith in that has faltered as I have watched people pass through this life, seemingly without ever manifesting their goals and dreams.
But, I understand that I cannot judge what these people did or did not accomplish on their life’s journey, any more than I can presume how they felt about it. I realize more importantly, that if anything is going to prevent me from following the path that leads to my highest purpose, it’s going to be the energy and time wasted on looking at everyone else’s map.
And quite possibly the most important lesson from all of this?
Friends like Katie are the treasures on this map.